The Peanut Butter & Jelly Seminar

When I was in 3rd grade (about eight years old), I experienced my first communication seminar.  Well, they didn’t call it that, really  we just had a guest speaker who came in to our classroom.  It was something though I will remember forever. 
So the lady had the class (about 30 kids) gather around a table where she had a bag of groceries. 

She made the announcement, “Today you will teach me how to make a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich”. 

We all giggled, “Aw that’s EASY!” 

She grinned and said, “Oh, you think so?  Well then, go ahead start me off.  I got everything we need in this bag.” 

So we all shouted orders at once, “Take some bread and put Peanut Butter on it!”

She nodded and took the bag of bread, put it on the table (still in the bag), then took the jar of peanut butter and smashed it right on top of the bag of bread.  “There!  What next?”

We all laughed and screamed, “No! No! No!  You need to take the bread out of the bag first!” 

“Oh!  I see!”  She said nodding again and then proceeded to empty the contents of the bread bag all over the table, pieces flying everywhere.

Again we all laughed, “No! No! No!  Take 2 pieces of bread out of the bag and place it on a paper plate!”

She smiled and said, “Ah…. Now you’re starting to get it!  What next?”

We said, “Now open the jar of peanut butter and get a knife and….” And from then on we did a much better job.  But it did take us like 30 minutes to get something that was half way edible.  LOL!

I look back on this memory with such fondness.  We all “assume” people know what we mean when we say it, especially if we come from similar backgrounds.  It is actually not the responsibility of the Listener to understand what you are saying, it is up to YOU to say it in a way the Listener can receive it.  Whenever I am getting frustrated that someone does not understand me, I try to remember this (my very first communication seminar) and see how I can maybe explain things a little differently.

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